A May 11, 2007, New York Times article entitled “Pope Canonizes Brazil’s First Native-Born Saint” by Larry Rohter and Ian Fisher, Sao Paulo, Brazil, said this:
“After canonizing Brazil’s first native-born saint and receiving a bracing dose of Brazilian-style religious fervor at an outdoor mass here today, Pope Benedict XVI called for more forceful evangelization efforts throughout Latin America to counter growing conversions to Pentecostal Protestant groups.”
I did not realize until I was born again of the Spirit that the biblical way of becoming a saint is diametrically opposed to the Roman Catholic way of becoming a saint.
In the Roman Catholic Church, it is the Pope who ultimately has the authority to “canonize” a person and make them a saint. It is is based upon what they have done in their life and other strict qualifications of the Church.
In the Bible we learn that the term “saint” is applied to living believers in Jesus Christ. In his letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote the following:
Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:1-3)
We can see how Paul relegated the title “saint” to “… all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord …”
Paul wrote this to the church at Ephesus:
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (Ephesians 1:1-3)
Once again Paul is referring to living believers in Jesus Christ. Paul writes “… to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus…” Paul was simply referring to people who had placed their faith in Jesus Christ and continued to follow Him.
We must not forget that Paul was once a severe persecutor of Christians ” …breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord…” (Acts 9:1) until the Lord Jesus Christ spoke to him out of heaven. (Acts 9:1-6)
This Jewish apostle of Jesus Christ, by his own admission, consented unto the death of Stephen who was a faithful man of God. (Acts 8:1, 22:20) We can therefore justly say that Paul was an accomplice to his murder. So now we have a former murderer preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, and writing letters to other believers whom he refers to as “saints.”
The point that I am making is that every person in this world can become a true “saint” of God, by repenting and believing the Gospel. (Mark 1:15) That is true biblical faith.
The true story about Paul should be an encouragement to all of us that our God is truly a God of love and mercy.
A person cannot truly come to Christ and become a “saint” until they see that their sin separates them from a holy and righteous God.
The Bible makes it clear that there are “none righteous” (Romans 3:10) and every single one of us falls short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) That is the very reason why we need a Saviour and that is the very reason why Jesus Christ came to this earth. That is the very reason why Jesus Christ went to the cross and shed His perfect sinless blood for people like us. (Romans 5:8-9)
The Jewish apostle Paul wrote this many years after he came to Jesus Christ:
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. (1 Timothy 1:15-16)
Are you a saint yet?